UNC Chancellor visits Malawi

In December, Holden Thorp witnessed first hand how strong ties help UNC and Malawi fight disease

By Patric Lane*

“By far the most inspirational business trip I’ve been on.”

– UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp

Eight thousand miles separate Chapel Hill and Malawi, a small, landlocked African country. The distance is great, the differences striking – but the ties that bind the two places together are strong.

UNC researchers began working in Malawi more than 20 years ago. Since then, the relationship has deepened as faculty and students help tackle challenges such as HIV, malaria and a lack of basic health infrastructure.

In mid-December, Chancellor Holden Thorp visited UNC Project–Malawi to see Carolina’s involvement firsthand: from participation in an international trial of the world’s most promising candidate for a malaria vaccine and various projects that aim to curb the impact of AIDS, to a host of other research, clinical care and training initiatives that benefit both countries.

View UNC in Malawi in a larger map

[On the map, click on the place marker icons to see photos and descriptions of UNC projects in Malawi. Use the + and – buttons to zoom in and out, or use your cursor to grab the map and move it around. If you have Google Earth intalled, click on the “Earth” option in the top right corner to switch to a 3-D view.]

Carolina’s presence is significant. At least 32 faculty from eight different disciplines have ongoing projects and travel to Malawi once a year or more. Six faculty live there full time. About 25 students work in Malawi. They include short-term visits by undergraduates in service or research projects; pre-doctoral students doing research or patient care; residents and fellows on senior clinical rotations; along with other scholars and fellows there for longer stints.

UNC’s National Institutes of Health Fogarty AIDS InternationalTraining and Research Grant has provided degree training for 12 Malawians while dozens of others receive short-term training. UNC activities also employ about 300 local residents, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists and others.

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Patric Lane is health and science editor at UNC News Services.  This feature was originally published at www.unc.edu